Dangerous Play With the Elements: Towards a Phenomenology of Risk Sports

Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 5 (3):314 - 330 (2011)
The purpose of this article is to present a phenomenological description of how athletes in specific risk sports explore human interaction with natural elements. Skydivers play with, and surf on, the encountering air while falling towards the ground. Kayakers play on the waves and with the stoppers and currents in the rivers. Climbers are ballerinas of the vertical, using cracks and holds in the cliffs to pull upwards against gravity forces. The theoretical background for the description is found in the phenomenology of Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. The phenomenology of Husserl focused on the theoretical intentionality of the transcendental ego. With Heidegger the human being's concrete and practical interaction with the environing world moved to the foreground. Heidegger's analyses of ?equipmentality? also throw important light on equipmentality in sports and how we deal with tools and equipment in sports. However, in Heidegger's analyses the body resides in the background both as subject and object. The importance of the active body-subject is well documented in the work of Merleau-Ponty, and also Todes. The human being is a bodily ?being-in-the-world? and the body is the active medium through which the world is grasped. The body is however also situated and aligned with the fundamental dimensions of the world, with vertical gravity and with horizontal action space. In this article I show in a concrete way how in some sports we use fundamental characteristics of the environing world in a mode of playfulness. In these sports human beings play in an extreme way with fundamental elements of nature. The article thus puts phenomenology to a test. It should be able to move from general characteristics to specific features of our bodily human involvement with the environing world
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DOI 10.1080/17511321.2011.602585
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Gunnar Breivik (2014). Sporting Knowledge and the Problem of Knowing How. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 41 (2):143-162.

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